Series on the Baha’i Faith Part 5: The Covenant

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This is the next post in the series introducing the Bahá’í Faith. The previous post dealt with the life of the Báb. This post will talk about the concept of the Covenant, and life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The concept of Covenant is central to the Bahá’í Faith. In the past, religions divided into sects shortly after the passing of their founders because some of their followers had ambitions for
leadership. Sometimes, differences of opinion about the interpretation of the scriptures led to splits in the religious community because there was nobody authorized to interpret the Scriptures.

Bahá’u’lláh has protected the Faith against these divisions by establishing a covenant with His followers. Before His passing, He stated very clearly that His eldest son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá will be appointed as the sole Interpreter of His Words and the Center of the Covenant. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá recognized the station of His Father at a young age, and shared much of His suffering throughout His lifetime. He holds a very special place in the hearts of the Bahá’ís, and is considered a perfect example of Bahá’í life.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá was born on the same night when the Báb declared His Mission in 1844, and passed away in November 1921 at the age of 77. Although His life was full of suffering, He was known for bringing joy and happiness to everyone. After the passing of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was in charge of leading the Bahá’í community, and worked very hard to promote it. He traveled widely across the East and the West. He wrote a large number of books, and letters expounding on the Teachings of His Father.

Focusing on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the Center of the Covenant helps maintain the unity of the Bahá’í community, and inspires Bahá’ís to live the life as prescribed by the teachings, and strive to build a new civilization. Love is an essential force of this undertaking. Bahá’u’lláh tells us to love one another, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá manifested this in His life. He said: “Do not be content with showing friendship in words alone, but let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path.” His focus on justice, generosity, and forgiveness was felt throughout His life.

In His Will and Testament, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá appointed His grandson, Shoghi Effendi, to be the Guardian of the Faith. After ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing, Shoghi Effendi became the authorized Interpreter of the Teachings. He worked for 36 years, clarifying any issues that arose among the believers in the course of the study of the Writings, and establishing the Faith in the world. Five and a half years after his passing, the Bahá’í international community elected the Universal house of Justice, as was envisioned by Bahá’u’lláh, and further elaborated on by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi. The Universal House of Justice is the supreme governing body of the Bahá’í Faith with the seat on Mt. Carmel in Haifa.To keep up with the posts introducing the Bahá’í Faith, please follow posts on this page, and posts by Ahva Afnani. We welcome comments and questions.

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